N24 Correspondent, PHILADELPHIA: Ramesh Rai (name changed) was a minor when he came to the U.S. with his parents under a refugee settlement program of the Bhutanese refugees. He and his family received the food assistance or the food stamps popularly known as the EBT (electronic benefits transfer) for years.
This assistance provided by the U.S. government was instrumental for his family to overcome the glitches of being settled in a new environment, resolve their hand-to-mouth problem and fight against the wide-spread poverty and deprivation with a hope for the future.
Ramesh was also hopeful that he does not have to work when he was studying at the college and could pursue his studies to become an expert on Information and Technology matters, so that he could be of some help to the U.S. government, that turned out to be a good Samaritan for his family, who were languishing in the Bhutanese refugee camps of Nepal for decades.
“With the government decision to revoke food stamps, I have to work now to support myself, my family and my studies. I have to face hardships to complete my studies and fulfill my dream of becoming an IT expert and give back to my society and my country – the United States of America,” Ramesh said.
According to an announcement from the U.S. government’s Department of Agriculture, starting April 1, 2020, there will be new requirements in place to be qualified for a food stamp.
The new rules were required to stop the misuse of food stamp and close a loophole that allowed participants receiving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) automatically eligible to participate in the Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to the Department.
“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a statement.
“The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it,” Perdue added.
As per the new requirement, among other provisions, an individual would have had worked more than 20 hours every week for more than 3 months in the past 36 months to be eligible for the food stamp.
Once this new rule comes into effect, more than 680,000 food stamp facilities will be cancelled, while the government says it is expecting to save at least $ 5.5 billion from these initiatives.
The new rule will affect individuals mostly in California (300,000), Illinois (178,000), New York (84,000), Tennessee (69,000) and Michigan (7,000), among other states, according to estimates.